SHRINKING JUSTIN'S HEAD
DEAR MERCURY: I recently read Justin Sanders' seething review of What the Bleep Do We Know? [Film Shorts, March 2, which was actually a review of the film Illusion, but whatevs]. Justin has a lot of fears. Psychologists confirm that we get angry at things we don't understand, or are afraid of, and it is blatantly obvious that Justin is really, reeeeally scared that there may actually be some truth in this film. Perhaps in a few more lifetimes, when he is more open-minded and accepting of newer, deeper insights, Justin might be ready to accept more of Life's truths.
MISSING PLAID PORTLAND
HELLO JUSTIN SANDERS: Portland is the new "culinary destination," is it? [Last Supper, March 16, in which Sanders applauds the reopening of the BridgePort BrewPub as another example of Portland's increasingly sophisticated restaurant scene.] How sad. This was the hallowed town of plaid, attitude, Pond, The Blue Room, Gus Van Sant, holes in the wall like the original Montage; it was ad hoc, everything was ad hoc, it was the home of the original concept of the term "Brewpub." And now... everyone fronts, packs of privileged lemmings go from one cool opening to the next expecting to see and be seen. I lament the passing of "The Port." It was counterculture. It had community; it was radically left wing, an anachronism of great worth. Sad.
PURE, INNOCENT TEENAGERS
CHAS BOWIE: I think you owe an apology to young Christians out there ["Can 5,000 Evangelical Teens Be Wrong?" March 16, in which Chas Bowie attends and reports on a teen Christian revival weekend]. Do you have a problem with teenagers being raised in a pure and innocent environment? If you truly understood the preciousness of Christianity, you wouldn't have written such a shallow article for the public to see.
WORSHIPPING A TEQUILA GOD
DEAR MERCURY: Thank you for publishing the report from the bowels of the Christian Right on their latest attempt to recruit and cultivate teens to become the next generation of stooges who will blindly follow and support conservative Christian causes and leaders hell-bent on destroying our country ["Can 5,000 Evangelical Teens Be Wrong?" March 16]. While I appreciate the teens' desire for spiritual lives, I hope they don't stop there. I also began my spiritual journey as an evangelical Christian but soon found that I became much closer to God while roaming the desert naked or dancing frenziedly at Grateful Dead concerts. Most of these experiences were positive, but even the negative experiences were educational. For instance, once my desire to find enlightenment through the magic of tequila reduced me to a psychotic wreck, kneeling with my arms around a clogged toilet that hadn't been flushed in three days on the urine-soaked floor of a rundown, fly- and rat-infested lavatory in a Mexican restaurant near Bumfuck, Idaho. Again, I applaud these teens for beginning their spiritual journeys, but I hope they continue them beyond the bowels of the Christian Right. The world will be a better place for it.
MORE THAN A JAM
DEAR MERCURY: Calling the Grateful Dead assholes for inventing the extended jam is the most ludicrous thing I have ever read ["Slack-Jawed, Stupid, and Boring: Why Psychedelic Music Makes Me Think of Guns," March 9]. Have you ever heard of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sun Ra, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Reich, or Stockhausen? To understand psychedelic music, and especially the "free-form" jam one must understand the art of improvisation in regards to the jazz greats, and the symphonic form in regards to some of the classical composers. What you also don't understand is that the genius minds backing the Dead are largely responsible for making the music transparently clear when played at high decibels. Without Owsley Stanley or the folks at Alembic Studios pushing the envelope to make the Dead's sound as clear as possible, countless now-standard PA, guitar effects, and live-recording techniques would never have been invented.
CONGRATULATIONS TO SERAPH for delivering such an impassioned defense of psychedelic music and the Grateful Dead, and winning the Mercury Letter of the Week! In order to nurture what is already a passionate opinion on matters of music, we're giving Seraph two tickets to see the New Amsterdams on Thurs May 25 at Dante's, plus $30 to No Fish! Go Fish!